6 July 2010


Oh yeah. This is an ex-blog. For quite some time I've been blogging at my new home on Typepad. If you're bored, why not take a look for more thoughts on communications and other stuff? You can also see what I've been up to with my middle names project. Be lovely to see you there.

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23 February 2010

chapter three: notes from the story

view from the balcony So Matt Locke's The Story happened last week. It was really good. About 400 people filled the Conway Hall to listen to people tell their stories or explain how they tell their stories. Everyone listened and laughed and applauded in the right places. In the breaks everyone filed out and drank lots of coffee. Coffee breaks looked like this, in fact: coffee break But I won't attempt to tell you about the whole day - partly because there was so much on, each talk was so different from the last (and yet the whole thing hung together so well), and partly because my notes and impressions would probably make no sense. In any case, the nature of the day I'd probably have to extrapolate at length to find a "point" where a lot of the time the only point might have been to tell a good story. So I'll concentrate on my highlights instead. Annette Mees and Tassos Stevens of You Have Found Coney told us about their immersive theatre experience, A Small Town Anywhere. "What do you call it?" I wrote in my notebook alongside their names. Alexis Kennedy of Failbetter Games showed us the inner workings of their Echo Bazaar Twitter game. "You need an organising principle" and "Go mad and hallucinate lizards" are a couple of the notes I've put against their talk. That seems to say more than I possibly could. What the Failbetter and Coney chaps have in common is that they are striking a deft balance between the player/participant driving the story and the interventions the storyteller needs to make to get you to where they want you to go. That choose-your-own-adventure, gaming aspect to their storytelling really appeals to me; at once brilliantly nostalgic and yet at the same time feeling a bit like the future of media (and other stuff). Regular readers of this blog will know of my soft spot for comics. So perhaps it's no surprise that Sydney Padua, author of the Lovelace and Babbage web comics was another highlight. Smart but self-effacing, she showed the crowd how she told stories visually as well as verbally. Her slides were great, too. I was too far away to get any real detail on my iPhone in this pic, but at least you can see that everybody's heads were pointed in the right direction. padua slides But my clear favourite was Tim, who read a story about the failure of a marrriage whilst the hero attempts to fool his business partner into thinking a project with Harrison Ford was on the cards. No one seemed able to work out whether it was invented or true, or at least what the balance really was between fact and fiction. Which is exactly how I think the very best stories should be. "Strange synchronicity" and "My moustache is a symbol of my misery" seem to sum it up perfectly, somehow. So I'll leave it there. More eloquent and interesting observations can be found on James Bridle's, Rebecca Denton's, and Vicky Matthews's blogs.

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19 February 2010

chapter two

doodling As expected, this was great.


11 February 2010

submit your idea and vote for your favourites

This, this and this all collided in my head the other day. On the one hand: as a charity with limited budgets and (if you're good) a well defined strategy for achieving what you want to do, you might not want to listen to other people's ideas about what you should be doing. On the other: why hasn't a charity found the right level of (or at least started toying with) crowdsourcing ideas to do good?

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recording the voices in your head

Tim's Say What You Want To Hear play was broadcast on Radio 4 today. And you can catch up on it for the next seven days. As with everything from Tim, there's an interesting digital storytelling element to it, as it was part written by the secret things listeners regularly say to themselves or wish that other people would say to them. Was your #swywth on it? If you want to take part, you can still do so via the Twitter and Facebook group.

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7 February 2010

chapter one

[Photo courtesy of James Bridle.] For lots of reasons I've been thinking about books and literary forms in general recently. And I've just finished reading Immanent in the Manifold City. It's brilliant. One of the interesting things about using Newspaper Club is that it can't help but remind you that many books used to be serialised. Whether it was simply about keeping interest in the story alive, or making it affordable to more people, there's something interesting about serialisation, issuing a novel as part of a periodical. I think there's something to be said for it as a unit of literature today. It feels relevant. The delayed gratification aspect. And the knowledge that it can fit into the bigger and more important patterns of your life. How great would that have been, to be able to get your Charles Dickens or George Eliot fix in your magazine or newspaper? I'm sure it would click with lots of people's media diets in 2010, as much as it did in the 19th century. And I think it would be an interesting literary unit for me especially. Otherwise short story collections are my staple. I hoover up short stories on the commute to work, but novels tend to take me at least a couple of weeks because the only time I have to pay proper attention is on the train. I can't think of much better than a story unfolding over the course of weeks and weeks, in small and easily digestible pieces (nicely designed too) for me to look forward to. There's loads of clever things you could do. Sort of like The Dongle of Donald Trefussis, but keeping on going. If I keep thinking about it, I may have to write something for serialisation. Just a thought.

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3 February 2010

now is the splinter of our discotheque

A very lovely mailer. Three A2 posters from Jim (one of the nice men of 26), designed by Elmwood.

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31 January 2010

immanent in the manifold city

[Photo courtesy of James Bridle.] Looking forward to getting my copy of this from James Bridle. (Made with Newspaper Club.)

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23 January 2010

world's most amazing libraries

These amazing pictures from the Huffington Post of the world's most amazing libraries (via Tash via @JensBookPage) made me wonder how books will be collected in future. We all know about on-demand printing and e-readers. But at some point it feels like people will be writing transmedia books (something like one of James's projects perhaps), in the same way they have been doing transmedia for broadcast for a long time. If books spill across the printed page, out onto the web and onto mobile to fit your media diet, how will they be brought together and stored? And what kind of librarian staffs the new kind of library?

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moodi million

Why play Farmville or Mafia Wars when you can play the Moodi Million instead?


positive light

positive light

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17 January 2010

while no one was looking

while no one was looking

13 January 2010

ultimate 81s are melting my mind

Recently I came across the Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81s online. They were in such a brilliantly garish colourway I just had to have them. Orange, turquoise, white and purple. photo.jpg This isn't the first time I've bought trainers online. But it is the first time I've bought a brand that I don't know very well. (I'm not a very loyal sneaker person. I don't have a big Nike or Adidas habit. I have a more magpie-like taste for Puma, Gravis, Tretorn, Converse, Etnies.) I like the silhouette. I love the toe. The toe shape is very important to me. Nice and rounded, not too pointy. And I love the hexagonal pattern on the sole. photo.jpg I'm just not sure about the big scoop in on the arch of the foot. Tash thinks I'll get used to it. Says Onitsuka Tigers are really comfortable. But I just don't know. I'm all confused. I love the colourway. And it is a reissued running shoe really. But...it's the scoop. Just thought you would want to know.


8 January 2010


snow and graffiti 2 Although the snow has probably cost the economy billions this week, pushed the NHS into crisis, brought the roads to a standstill, and surfaced a whole lot of previously concealed aggression on the trains, it sure does make you see things differently.


3 January 2010

i made a superhero

Using Marvel's create-your-own tool. (If only Dark Horse and those guys had a similar toy.) Henceforth you shall know me only as Strike.


small chair

McSweeney's has made an iPhone app called Small Chair, which gives you curated access to stuff from their Quarterly Concern, Wholphin, The Believer and the daily site. I can't find anything smart to say about it. I like it too much.

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top fives: things i have learned

OK, so I failed to do my last in the top fives mini-series before the end of 2009. Oh well. The moment's probably passed to look at them in great detail but in case you were wondering what they were, here's my list. 1. treat it as a story 2. think of it as a game 3. i need to read faster 4. the agency doesn't always know best 5. do more, read less (as long as you don't read too little) The chances are that I'll be banging on about one or more of these things here very soon anyway.

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30 December 2009

top fives: good things

And so onto my highlights from this year... 1. good projects I don't talk about my work that much on this blog. Don't know why that is. But I had a few especially good projects this year. I worked with interesting people, did some naming projects, wrote lots of stuff, art directed other bits, worked on Facebook apps, and was the voice of a brand in various social spaces. I enjoyed them, was tested creatively and in other ways, got good feedback (mostly) and learned a lot. Oh, and Contagious magazine said the first one "put shame in the game of many youth brands". I'll take that quite happily. 2. my son's first birthday -2 Milo's birthday weekend was so, so good. The best two days of the year. We went to see Pop at the Tate Modern, and he loved most of it, especially the Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst rooms. flowers The next day we had 40 or so friends and family over for his birthday party. There was cake and there were goody bags, as there should be at every good party. And we got him a trike that he loves. trike ride 3. watchmen marketing Watchmen was a transmedia narrative par excellence, with games, mock documentaries, printed stuff, music videos and more springing up around it. The distributed story was so good you almost didn't need to see the movie. 4. robots were awesome They really were. There were great things like Chalkbot and Katy's presentations for Interesting and Playful too. 5. slow projects Earlier this year I felt like I was losing track of writing for my own fun. So I've made a point of making time for it. It's starting to pay off too. I enjoyed NaNoWriMo, although I didn't get far. I had a bit of success with Leaf Books and a couple of other things. There have also been Crossrail Pop-up Pop and a bigger thing, which I've often obliquely referred to but never got round to finishing. So maybe that'll show up one day soon. The point is to start these things, even if you may never finish.

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28 December 2009

top fives: bad things

So here are the things I won't miss about 2009. They are a bit of a random mishmash of personal/worky/other, so they probably look a bit odd piled up next to each other like this. 1. my son being in hospital There have been a few difficult things on the personal front this year, but none more so than my baby boy spending time in hospital. Three times in 2009 with breathing difficulties. (Apparently they don't say it's asthma until you're a bit older.) So the fact I've had a heavy cold over Christmas has meant I've pretty much spent the whole time scared that he would have to go in again...and that I'd be responsible. Thankfully, that hasn't happened (hope I don't have to say "yet"). Here's to a healthier 2010, Milo. 2. michael jackson During the summer I found it really weird that there wasn't more of a conversation around Michael Jackson on the planning and creative blogs. He seems to have been knocking around some of the really big cultural shifts of the last five decades. As a performer, as a brand, as a social phenomenon (I found out on Twitter before it was on the news - you probably did too), it didn't really feature. But as an uber-fan, maybe I'm just being a bit precious. 3. losing too much time to free flash games OK, it's not the biggest thing in the world. I got hooked on sites like Kongregate for a bit in the middle of the year. And then moved on to Canabalt, which is awesome. But if you add up the total time I've lost over the whole year, you'd probably laugh at me. And life coaches would offer me their services for free. Seriously, it must be four days or something. 4. brands trying to show how social they are Making ads like this. Rather than behaving socially. 5. felipe massa's accident OK, so formula one is my not-so-secret guilty pleasure. There are lots of good reasons not to like it, but I can't help it. Somewhere along the line I managed to invest myself in the story of it, and I've been hooked ever since. When this happened, I was absolutely gutted. Felipe should have won the championship the previous year, when it was claimed by Lewis Hamilton. (The driver was the consistent side of the partnership in Ferrari, the team was at McLaren. If you don't agree I will fight you on this.) That image I have of him beating his chest on the podium in Sao Paolo, knowing he'd won the race but lost the championship by a single point, holding his head up high...that's one of the most inspiring sporting images of the last decade for me. To be hit on the head by a spring from someone else's car the following season, whilst travelling at 162 mph, that just doesn't seem fair.

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20 December 2009

top fives

bar graph grille

if you want to see the future

24 November 2009, originally uploaded by mattcottam Via Magical Nihilism.

15 December 2009

games teach

"Games teach that failure isn't bad, and that collaboration isn't cheating." Henry Jenkins, quoted by Alice Taylor in this Do Lecture. Lots of nice brainfood in this. If I had my way, all (OK, not all, lots) of comms would have a playable element of some kind. Worth a lunchtime view. Or watch it on the podcast.

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9 December 2009

crossrail pop-up pop

Rishi and I started something called Crossrail Pop-up Pop recently. Look, here it is: We wanted to create a place where we could gather memories about gigs we've seen at the Astoria, as a sort of tribute, and as a little way of holding the Crossrail and Westminster Council to book over their promise to create a replacement music venue. Firstly we want to make sure that happens. Secondly we want to make sure that it's got enough personality (call it grubbiness, call it patina, call it what you will) that it doesn't just join the pantheon of bland, branded and well lit "entertainment spaces". (I always think you can judge a gig or club venue by the special stickiness of its floor. Something to do with years of spilt beer and sugary drinks, condensation and perspiration. Or something.) Because the Astoria was enormously important to me, growing up as a suburban Londoner. It was where we went to see proper big bands, rather than the sort that played at The Venue in New Cross, our other big indie hang-out of the time. I have a big nostalgic attachment to it for that reason. But we're a bit slow off the mark though. And we could do with your help. So should you wish to, you can share your gig memories from the Astoria or manifestos for the new venue at http://crossrailpopupop.tumblr.com/submit. And you can follow our Crossrailpop Twitter here. Or use the hashtag #tcrcrossrailpopupop. Any or all of those things would be lovely.


just a little thing

A while ago I entered a postcard writing competition from Leaf Books. My entry didn't win, but turns out they quite liked it. Like lots of things I write for myself, I'm not sure I like it personally. It's a bit overwritten. But should you wish to judge for yourself, it's over here.

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7 December 2009

i don't know, do i?

I came across Ben Harris's blog this evening. It's rather good. You should look at it in fact. It persuaded me that I should add the silly little diagrams and sketches I do to my blog, rather than relying too much on things like Daytum. So yes, I'll do that. That shall become A Thing. It also reminds me that there should be more Venn diagrams in blogging.

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1 December 2009

bonkers good personalisation

My brother sent me this film he made from a toy produced to say thank you to Swedes who pay their equivalent of the licence fee. You've seen such things before with the Dexter Hitlist. But I love the epic feel of this. The person featured, in case you're wondering, is my baby boy Milo.


29 November 2009

curating stories

This, which by the looks of things will happen, sounds like a tremendous thing indeed. Especially if they can work past their concerns about "stories in the digital age". Because there must be something in the idea that old book-based and oral storytelling aren't so far removed from gaming and film stories after all.

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24 November 2009

you were here first

A while ago I retweeted a retweet from Lawrence about Foursquare and Gowalla and things like that. I love games of all kinds. Immerse-yourself-and-buy-the-extra-chapter kind of games, five-minute iPhone distraction games, and the pretend-you're-a-robot-Sherlock-Holmes-and-fire-lasers-from-your-fingers-as-you-walk-down-the-road imaginary kind of games (maybe that last one is just me). And there's been lots of conversation recently about the use of gaming techniques in communications, and relationships between the personal and the social on games. And I'm into that, and those people say it better than I ever could. So there's a bit of me that feels like it's none of my business which games people choose to play or where they talk about them. But the number of times I've seen Foursquare and Gowalla pop up in my Twitter feed means it's nearer the front of my mind. I love things that give you a score and that unlock achievements. But I sort of feel like that this kind of social/play space has kind of been done...and that it has a platform already. And that platform is Facebook. Obviously half the planet disagrees with me, which is okay. But it just feels disconnected to me that there's this other place where you earn currency for having been the first to a bar, or that you've become a mayor of such-and-such cafe. It's like an elaborate bragging game designed around your disposable income, and/or marital status and/or richness of your social life. I add those things up and keep getting Facebook. Foursquare and Gowalla are useful because they connect your network to reviews and new social destinations. Which is a good thing. But that's not the quality that seems to rise to the top. And in any case I think I'm after a different sense of utility. Like I'd love a social game that uses the same model to share recipes around butternut squash, or unlocks prizes for knowing how to make your own harissa. Or that helps me make more informed about buying ethically. And I love how things like Noticings start rewarding you for the little diversions that ordinarily would just stop you from doing what you're supposed to be doing. These would just seem to be more interesting things to me. Of course another way to look at it might be to go back to that point about your disposable income and richness of your social life. Because I've got a mortgage and a one-year-old. So that may mean that I'm just jealous.

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14 November 2009


Canabalt is about as pure as Flash games get. That is all.

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11 November 2009

under the dome

Thought I'd blog this, seeing as my NaNoWriMo effort is going so slowly. To celebrate its release, Stephen King's new novel was split into more than 5,000 pieces and concealed in a massive game of hide-and-seek. And there was a creative writing competition too. There's got to be a reason that entertainment properties can often produce much more interesting comms. Is it because there's already a story at the heart of them? Maybe that's a topic for 19 February.


1 November 2009


I've signed up to NaNoWriMo. Which means I have 50,000 words to write by December. And after just one day, I'm already behind. So embloggening might be a bit sporadic during the month of November.

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31 October 2009

beyond the brief

momentum = gifts A while ago I had a bit of a rant about messaging. A few things have been piling up recently to make me think that's not so wrong. Like this ace Zeus Jones post (via The Planning Lab). And the APG paper for somebodyelsesphone.com. I think the latter does it for me especially. So much planning and creative work takes place upstream, in a brief-shaped bubble. You determine the insights, determine the shape, brief it in, sign it off and buy the media space. However much it's intended to change, adapt and live, it doesn't quite do it in a convincing way. So the emphasis on a different kind of team in both of these posts seems pretty relevant. It's not about carving out ever more niche roles, it's about knitting groups together more effectively and taking advantage of the overlaps in skills. That's how I work best anyhow. And that kind of work doesn't produce the normal comms outputs, because it's born of the need to evolve and react. Which is less about messaging and more about conversations and experiences.


24 October 2009


photo.jpg If and when it happens, you should definitely go to this.


18 October 2009

the art of blogging without blogging

time leaps up While we were in hospital, any spare moments spent fetching coffee or snatching breakfast in the greasy spoon were filled with thoughts of what to blog about, various writing things I'm doing and general ambitions from cleaning the fridge through to getting my Here & There prints framed. Now that I'm back at home I'm behind with all my RSS feeds and everything, work beckons, the house is a bit of a state, and we haven't done nearly enough to get ready for Milo's first birthday party, I still have the burning desire to be productive but seemingly very little time to achieve it in. But then I've noticed that lots of my favourite blogs go through really quiet spells followed by a flurry of publishing. You can almost see the work/life arc behind it. Very few post something every couple of days. I'm not sure how they manage it. Which got me to thinking about the delayed gratification part of continuous partial attention. A lot of the time I click through from iGoogle even if I can't see something has updated, because there's always a bit of a delay before it registers a new post. I'm looking for opportunities to be interrupted. And it's an awesome feeling when I discover that someone cleverer than me has something interesting to say. I like it when someone hits a groove and publishes a load of stuff before going away again for a bit. There's that tension between wanting to be a live node and wanting to save things up, craft them and develop them perfectly. And that kind of thing.

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significant objects

Can a great story give a worthless item some real monetary value? That's the question asked by the Significant Objects project. So far they've managed a significance premium of more than 2,000 per cent. Nick's written a nice poem for this clown figurine.

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16 October 2009

high dependency

We're back from a couple of days spent in hospital with Milo. He's fine, but it's his second time (the first was about a month ago) in with breathing difficulties caused by a viral chest infection. He had to work very hard to breathe when he went in. You could see his stomach sucking in, and he was using every muscle in his top half just to get air in and out. We stayed in what was called the high dependency unit, where you need a bit more regular attention. But now, thanks to lots of inhalers, nebulisers, steroids and other things he's much, much better. The NHS is a funny thing, and I know this isn't everyone's experience. We had to tell the same story and give the same details about five or six times within the space of a few hours. As a customer journey or relationship thing, that's a bit bonkers. But the people, all of them, from the paramedics who took us in the ambulance to the A&E doctors, to the nurses, doctors and consultant on the children's ward, were absolutely incredible. You could not fault the level of care and attention to detail. They remembered our names, had proper conversations, remembered our stories and who we are, and passed it on from shift to shift. When by comparison you consider how much many commercial companies invest in their CRM and still get it massively wrong, you realise that the NHS has a lot right with it. And probably the thing that makes the difference is the thing that underlies any customer relationship programme that works: people who care.

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2 October 2009

love distance

I was due to go to a Contagious briefing with Emma and Emily the other week. It was all about brands being useful, so I was sad not to make it in the end. Anyway. They went and saw this as a case study. Hadn't seen it before, and I just really like it. Love Distance was a piece of comms to promote Sagami condoms in Japan, dramatising the benefit that they are just 0.02mm thick. Unbranded ads appeared on TV, starting to tell the story of a couple in a long-distance relationship. They drove you to a site you could choose to enter as a boy or a girl. There the story continued to unfurl over time, showing how the man and woman were running 1,000km across Japan to be with each other by Christmas. But you still didn't know who it was for. At the end of it all an ad pieced the whole story together, including appropriate visual metaphors and pack shot. It's the transmedia storytelling that I love. I know, I know. It's still just flogging stuff. But I'm hooked on the idea that a brand can entertain you over time - bringing you something that feels more meaningful or substantial, campaign as content, that kind of thing. We organise ourselves around stories, whether it's the novel or magazine in your bag, or the film or soap you watch on TV. So it's always a good thing in my book when a brand wants to create the platform for a story, and not interrupt or arrange itself around them.

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data about data

Jessica has done something very clever with her Daytum sets. Meta meta data data is her recording of her recording of data. It's something she presented at Interesting 2009. An event which I missed. Bah. But at least it's up on Flickr for you to enjoy now. And it's beautiful.

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1 October 2009

for every problem, there is a solution community

More things should be solved like this.

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living identities

Tim's a nice man. Well, we've never actually met in person but he always comes across very well in the world of 26. Tim has written a book with Moving Brands all about their idea of living identities that evolve as the business does and as the communication challenge changes shape. How to bring that to life in an interesting way? Why, pimp the cover up with augmented reality. I'm looking forward to seeing the video, because I was really excited by augmented reality a while ago. And 95 per cent of stuff from the last six months has been rubbish. There's only been a few examples of it being creatively interesting or of monetising it well. With lots of people (like Katy for instance) talking about the relationships between web and print, this seems quite timely (as does the subject of the book, by the way). There's been lots written about the digital future of books and on-demand publishing by people much cleverer than me. But I like the idea that you could use augmented reality on the shelves at Waterstones. Maybe even embed the film preview or bring the protagonists to life by pointing your book camera at a display computer. Or, even better, make something augmented and social, in the way that Berg's The Incidental is social map making, or that Tim's Kidmapper project is a new way of thinking about book clubs. And that kind of thing.

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22 September 2009

visualising voices

The Voicebot pt 1 from sidekick studios on Vimeo.

If you know me, you know I love robots. So engineering them in to a participatory comms solution is going to push all my hot buttons. It seems to be working for others too, as there's a fair bit of pick-up on places like PSFK and Wired. Voicebox describes itself as "a data visualisation project, curating young people’s views on issues that matter, visualising the findings, and then setting the data free for you to do the same." It's a project from V to demonstrate to politicians, the media and everyone else that 16 to 25-year-olds care about stuff. And are articulate about those things that matter most to them. And they have an API, so if you can do clever things visualising data, that's nice. I especially love how Sidekick Studios, the people who built the robot, describe themselves as a social innovation company using the internet to fix problems and make life more useful. As Voicebox and Timetable would suggest, they are interested in the internet of things, and a world where there's no seam between the digital and physical worlds. That seems to be the best way to create things that are comms, product, service and community all wrapped up in one. At the moment I hate finding myself at a loading bar, Flash-heavy adverwebby site, because it's so of the internet and not of life. You turn the power off and it's gone. Whereas things like Voicebox allow you to do something to the real world via the computer. And this physical expression of yourself is still out there, somewhere, when you shut down for the evening. Maybe it's also because projects like this are also quite defiant of analytics. It's quite hard to quantify the true meaning of someone's self-expression, no matter how good your social media metrics. So your criteria for success are completely up in the air. When you're dealing with what matters most to people, that feels important somehow. So yeah.

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18 September 2009

learn something new

This is one of those big, dumb blog post steals. But it's so good, and I've been sending it round the studio and to a bunch of friends, I thought it was worthy of it. Learn Something Every Day is a project from UK design studio Young. Nice colours, innit. And a great engine for pub conversation. Via the excellent Noisy Decent Graphics.

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11 September 2009

food for fork

It was Tash’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. She was dead excited to receive a beautiful glass cake stand from her best friend, Claire. And Claire’s sister Gina got her a beautiful cake slice from Bombay Duck to go with it, too. She loved it because it went really well with the vintage teaspoons that she already had from Bombay Duck. The only thing that was missing were some nice pastry forks. So naturally once she’d made her favourite Victoria sponge, she blogged about it. And she happened to mention that she didn’t have a nice set of pastry forks. That was that. Then someone from Bombay Duck left a comment on her post. They didn’t sell pastry forks, they explained, but they’ve passed the idea on to the design team. So you never know. Simple and pure. And nice. Lots of people are talking about how the product or service should be its own marketing, so I know this is an obvious thing to say. But maybe at some point in the future all customer service teams are going to be completely proactive, rather than existing to simply react to your issue or complaint. They’ll be able to design their own service model. And maybe they will have their own creative types embedded into the team. So that they can make stuff. Just simple, nice, little things that give you a very personal value exchange. Or maybe the customer service value will be embedded directly into the development of products. Maybe if Bombay Duck choose to make those pastry forks, they'll be kind enough to send the first two sets to Tash and Gina. I’d like that.

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7 September 2009

extra reading

The Death of Bunny Munro - Enhanced Edition Promo from Enhanced Editions on Vimeo.

I've been reading and hearing lots about e-books for a while. How they are becoming more popular, how Sony, Kindle and so on are going to be eating up the paperback market until we're only left with summer blockbusters and trophy hardbacks in print. I've had a play with a couple of friends' readers and I've tried a few books on iPhone, but I've just not got it really. I like having the book as a physical product in my hands. Even if they've skimped on the paper quality, you get that little snapping sound as you flick a corner and turn the page. And the cover design on literary fiction is pretty interesting too, most of the time. You don't get that when you're scrolling pages onscreen. So this Enhanced Editions thing is very good. It's what e-books should be about - or ones for the iPhone anyway - which is translating something text-based into other, extra media experiences to enrich your reading.


5 September 2009


Smokescreen Game from Six to Start on Vimeo.

Smokescreen is a new online game story by Six to Start for Channel 4. I'm loving future-ish media projects like this at the moment. And Channel 4 seems to just churn them out with things like Yeardot, Battlefront already under their belts. Smokescreen is a game that centres on an imagined social network called White Smoke, spilling across IM, games, phone calls, podcasts and suchlike. It's a story that spins out through play across all these mediums. The future-ishness isn't just in the transmedia storytelling; it's also in the theme of identity and relationships that spills out of the social setting. It's about who you want to be, who you can trust and how you make those decisions. It feels like it emerges from the lives of its target audience, making it a Very Good Thing indeed. More things should be like this. So that's that.

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31 August 2009

rfid tours

welcome to much wenlock We went to a village called Much Wenlock in Shropshire over the Bank Holiday. It was for a wedding, probably the poshest I'll ever go to. The reception was in Weston Park, the nearby stately home in whose grounds the V Festival took place a couple of weeks ago. Anyway. The next day we went to the ruins of an old priory back in Much Wenlock. And wandering round really reminded me of something that Tim Wright was saying about war monuments in his article for 8, a newspaper by the BBC about what it means to be a digital public service broadcaster. Specifically about how great it would be to embed RFID into the monuments and the landscape. arch It'd be great for these English Heritage and National Trust-type things, rather than carrying those push-the-buttons-and-listen wands you carry on on those audio tours. It'd be a great way to immerse your visitors in the stories that surround a place. You could layer up the narratives (rather than edit them into digestible soundbites) and let people follow the thread that most speaks to them. And following Ted's thoughts on RFID, you could use the same device or mechanism you use to consume the experience could be the same one you use to give back to it, in the form of micro-donations. That's what you call closing the loop, I believe. Me likey.

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flash games are eating my brain

Earlier this year we started some of our first social media experiments with young people. As part of it, we asked them about the sites they like. And loads came back with places where you can play free Flash games. I had to try a few out, partly because I was writing about it. But more because I was intrigued. And now I'm hooked. I started with this motocross game. I moved on to Tactical Assassin 2. And now it's all about Street Skating. And I do mean I'm hooked. I don't know what it is, but whenever I need to get something done, these games provide the perfect segue for some reason. They just get me into a zone for proper thinking. And I don't know why I like them so much. I think it's just the simplicity of it all. It's (relatively) democratic in that all you need is a laptop with up-to-date-ish software, rather than an expensive story engine. And there's something charmingly rickety about the gameplay. There's something simple and nostalgic baked into it, like Bubble Bobble, but with hitmen and stunt riders. All of which makes it demanding enough to be addictive, but at the same time a distraction, something that refreshes your head before you move on to the next thing. I'm sure this says something interesting about continuous partial attention, using gaming techniques to improve productivity, or something like that. But I'd have to play a few games first in order to work out what I really wanted to say about it.

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26 August 2009


I should be better at passing on details of friends who are doing interesting things. So Leticia is showing at the Decked project, a skate-inspired exhibition at the StolenSpace gallery in Brick Lane. It's on until 30 August. And some of the decks are for sale! Have a look if you're nearby.